2

I Will Be This Mum I Won’t Be That Mum

Here is the mum I envisaged myself being. All whilst wearing a frilly apron, holding a cherry pie – fresh from the oven. We can ‘lol’ about that later.

I will listen and respond to everything my children say

Even when it makes no sense. How could any parent become bored of this, it’s cute right? (that mum rolls her eyes, who can peel potatoes with a toddler clinging to your leg shouting ‘is that a digger?’ 100 times over ‘YES, IT’S A FUCKING DIGGER’ – although that mum doesn’t resort to swearing in response)

We will go out everyday

Because I need to make the most of my time with them now, while they’re small and easy (that mum chuckles at this statement). The fresh air will do us all the power of good and help the children sleep, they’ll be sleeping through early on, all that fresh air. (that mum aims to go out most days and fails most days, ‘Tesco it is kids, get your shoes on’)

I will cook everything from scratch

After giving up work, I will have plenty of time to prepare meals and ‘batch cook’, no jars in this house. (that mum relied on jars with her first and has a few back-up jars for lazy evenings with her second)

My children will never eat junk food

They will be so used to eating fruit and veg as snacks, that seeing crisps and chocolate will repulse them. (that mum keeps naughty treats in the cupboard, for the children. Sometimes for use as a snack, mostly for use as a bribe)

My children won’t watch TV

Why would they want to watch TV when we have a large collection of books to be read? (that mum uses TV as a tool, a distraction to have 5 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour, to sit, just sit)

My house will always be immaculate

I won’t be at work, which means I will have plenty of time to clean and tidy. I will ensure all food is eaten in the kitchen. How messy can kids be? (that mum sees no point in tidying until the children are asleep, they never sleep, therefore she never tidies)

I won’t let myself go

After each baby has been born I will lose all the baby weight and continue eating healthily, what a perfect example for my children. (that mum shudders at the thought of eating healthily, while she devours an entire bag of Maltesers, a sharing bag)

I will never shout at my children in public

My children will be so well-behaved there will be no need to discipline them in public, how common. (that mum not only gives the toddler a ‘telling off’ in public, but will also give a timeout and when all else fails, that mum will dump all shopping and leave via the nearest exit, screaming toddler in hand)

I will enjoy every second of parenting

I get to spend all day, every day with my children, a very lucky privilege. (that mum sometimes wishes she could be anywhere at all, by herself, just for an hour)

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It’s safe to say, I’m that mum. And so far by being that mum, I’ve managed to raise two, fabulous children, if I do say so myself.

6

When Parenting Pushes Beyond The Limits

These last couple of weeks have made me question whether I can successfully fulfil the role of being a parent.

Patience is not my thing, I’ve since discovered after owning two small children. Nor is sleepless nights, early starts and constant crying (whinging is also just as bad – nails on a chalk board).

Although this is all part of the job. Sometimes nothing we can do as parents will make a blind bit of difference to how they sleep and behave. Sometimes it’s just luck of the draw.

There’s no amount of tea or caffeine to make up for the loss of sleep. There’s also no amount of early nights to make up for it, because the baby can sense an early night.

I’ve been close to throwing in the towel in the midst of these unhappy and tiring days. In fact, I did throw in the towel. The towel, some toys, a fish slice.

Once the towel had been thrown it was quickly handed back. Reminding me that my role is full time (over and above the standard working hours) and it’s also permanent.

I must be failing somewhere ‘what am I doing wrong?’ I ask myself and anyone within earshot. Nothing. Getting a grip and accepting this is my life now, is all that is needed.

Riding out the hard days (weeks) for the best days, the best smiles, the best laughs. And reminding ourselves that it all comes good in the end. Especially when the end is an evening in pyjamas, sipping wine.

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It’s not their fault, even when you’re convinced they do it on purpose.

2

Bonding With A Baby Wasn’t As Instant As Described

When you announce your pregnancy, you’re told of the love you’ll have for your baby and how lovely it’ll be on maternity leave to bond with the baby.

I agree that the love is instant, the love is unconditional and it’s overwhelming.

Although bonding with the baby is a different kettle of fish.

I have since discovered I find it really hard to bond with babies.

*waits to be struck down*

With both of my two children, although I love them, more than can be described, I didn’t bond with them straight away. I found it incredibly hard to bond with a small human who’s only interaction is crying, sometimes incessantly for hours on end. I couldn’t figure out their needs, sometimes they needed nothing, then why are you crying?

If my partner decided he would wake me up hourly, every night, for a quick snack, he certainly would not be my partner now. But this is the norm for a small baby. I accepted this norm, but the tiredness as a result of it meant, yet again, I’m finding it hard to bond with you.

I have no idea how to play with babies, google gave me some ideas but with my first child I felt, well, stupid. Singing, reading, chatting or showing toys to a baby who seemingly wasn’t interested. It felt silly. I felt silly. Since having our second, it no longer felt silly, quite normal in fact, as our toddler will join in the charade.

During the baby months I never felt connected to them, was I really a mum, their mum? I wasn’t sure how a bond with a child should feel. Until our son started communicating, walking, getting ‘easier’.

I then learnt that the bond isn’t instant. You have to get to know each other, like you would a friend and this is hard to do with a baby. The bond grows gradually over the months you spend together.

I had always felt like I wasn’t ‘doing it properly’ because I just couldn’t connect well with babies, as cute as they are. The older they get, the more responsive they get and the more they sleep [high five to sleep] the more I see them as real individuals, someone whose company I enjoy just as much as they push my button, the big red ‘do not push’ button.

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It’s a lot of pressure to ‘bond’ with your baby. It may not always be instant, for me it wasn’t. But our bond now is there and it was well worth the wait.

7

Parenting Has Changed Me But Not How I Thought It Would

When we were expecting our first child I thought the imminent birth would flick a switch in our lives

[pre-baby self – off]

[new-parent self – on]

I assumed it’d change my outlook on life, my former self would be a distant memory, of which it is not, I still remember feeling fully rested, prosperous and living life with ease, pyjama days out of choice and not because I just haven’t got any bloody time in-between my parenting duties, which are not made easy by our two spirited children.

I thought I would become a much more tolerant person, someone who can tolerate lengthy spells of crying, tantrums and screaming. That becoming a parent myself would help me excuse other childrens irritating behaviour. In fact, quite the opposite has happened, I can barely tolerate my own children screaming, crying and throwing themselves on the ground in shops just for the hell of it, much less anyone elses. The big change here is my empathy with other parents, I feel your pain. I know you can control your child, I know when your child is behaving like a feral animal you are secretly dying inside, because it’s affecting you far more than anyone else. You will forever more get my sympathy smile, one that I also receive from other mums who’ve been there, are doing it, or have done it.

I thought staying at home with children instead of going to work would be a much easier task. Watching tv all day, tea on tap and being able to come and go as we please. Living this life for two years proves going to work every day is a real dream. My preconceived ideas of what a stay at home mum does got screwed up, chewed up and shat out by my first born. Come and go as we please? Don’t forget the nappies, wipes, bottles, snacks, toys, bribes, outfit changes, Disney CD, blankets, coats, phone and oops baby’s just filled his nappy with a huge, leaky ‘not so easy now is it’ dump, then we leave the house and in amongst trying not to forget everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, I forget the keys. We’re then locked out. I do now have a newfound respect for mums who choose to not go back to work, it’s not so easy breezy. I also respect mums who go to work, how on earth do you have time for it all?

I thought having children would mean my inner calm would flourish. What shitting inner-calm? I’ve never been more on edge than I have since having children. I regularly shout ”you’re in the wrong lane arsehole”  ”nice indicating, NOT, wanker” or whisper ”for fucksake” as I clean up the mornings breakfast of porridge or beans off the floor, walls and child. Having children has exaggerated my inner rage, ‘mum rage’ I think it’s called. And it’s perfectly normal, considering you’re in charge of small children, on no food, sleep, clean clothes or money to do anything. I now never judge a fellow mum with her huffs and tuts at life’s little annoyances, I’m right beside you huffing and tutting too.

I knew the house would become a little more like a toy store. It certainly has. Our house is an assault course of toys, which will make you bite your lip to stop from screaming any profanity as you stand on them. I didn’t think I would fare well with a cluttered house, no fancy ornaments since these are also seen as toys, very breakable toys, no calm space to relax in, sitting on the sofa usually leads to a chorus of some mind-numbing song from a toy wedged between the cusions. There is no toybox big enough to contain the endless supply of toys. I’m ok with this. Well, I’ve accepted it and I don’t really care that they’re everywhere, most nights I can’t even be bothered to put them away. I have even bought into the toystore idea, I have a toy buying obsession. This shows that the large supply of toys we live in has made me lower my house-proud standards. I aim for clean, tidy is a luxury.

I thought those lovely nursery rhymes and TV show theme songs would be enjoyed by us all. We would sit in a circle, holding hands, swaying and singing ‘Silent Night’. I instead, do not enjoy this. TV theme songs are the main songs of the family. I tolerate the incessant amounts of ‘M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E it’s the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse…’ it haunts every journey in the car, every morning, every evening. I even sing it to our baby after her bath. I also didn’t think what I listen to would have any effect on the children. Wrong. Most songs released now have countless amounts of shits, fucks, bitches and hoes in the songs. Straight over my head, but since we have a very impressionable child, I’ve found myself creating a child friendly IPod playlist and changing the music channels as soon as we know ‘this one’s got big booty’s shaking around in nothing but a thong’. I never gave this aspect a second thought before having children, but I now appreciate how inappropriate this is and is avoided at all cost. Listening to songs about ‘mahfuckers’ are saved for the evenings, whilst unloading the dishwasher when both children are sound asleep. I’ve actually gone off some of these songs, the appeal isn’t there.

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I’m still me, my previous self didn’t disappear with my placenta after I gave birth. The changes in my mothering self are minor compared to the huge change I had once imagined, but these minor changes are all either necessary or natural. I suppose the biggest change to myself is putting someone elses needs before my own. A strong theme occurs that I won’t eat, sleep, get dressed, waste time tidying, because I’m busy with my children.